Report: Netflix Looks to Tackle An Equity Stake in NFL Films

The NFL and Netflix could be working out of an agreement that would bring NFL Films to the streaming platform, according to a report by Daniel Kaplan at The Athletic.

The NFL is considering selling equity in NFL Films separately from its long-marketed minority stake in NFL Media, said sources who were briefed on the efforts last week at the annual owners’ meetings.

A list of the media companies the league has talked to for the NFL Media process was presented on a slide at the meeting and included Netflix, the entertainment streamer that has avoided live sports. 

The NFL has made it known that “streaming is extremely important” when it comes to the league’s future media deals. Back in November, it was reported that Amazon took the lead with a 49% bid for NFL Media; however, in March it was reported that Apple was interested in bundling NFL Media with other NFL digital rights.

Kaplan’s reporting makes it clear that the NFL may be looking to separate NFL Films from a potential NFL Media sale to help spread the popularity of the game, similarly to the increase of popularity in F1 since Drive to Survive:

NFL Films shows could fit into Netflix’s sports strategy of shoulder and reality programming, which includes “The Last Dance” and “Formula 1: Drive to Survive.”

The NFL is not just selling a slice of equity in Media, but looking for a partner, or partners, that can help distribute content. The NFL did not reply for comment.

NFL Films dates back to 1962 and has 6 decades’ worth of footage from legendary plays, documentaries, interviews, and programming, which has led to the NFL becoming the most-watched sport in the United States. If Netflix or any other streaming platform is able to acquire rights to NFL Films, then shows like Hard Knocks, A Football Life, or original NFL programming could help drive subscriber growth in a mutually beneficial relationship. There’s already a baked-in audience as the NFL Films YouTube channel has over a million subscribers.

As of today, nothing has been finalized between the involved parties, but in due time fans will know if Netflix will cross the goalline with NFL Films in hand.